Feeling busy? Take 5 minutes to create a little order

16 June 2016

Busy? Take five minutes to create order.

When I get busy my natural messiness kicks in. Our kitchen is being renovated so disorder reigns in our house and has for the last six weeks. But even in small spaces that have nothing to do with the kitchen, like my desk, everything felt out of control this morning. I’m feeling pulled in a bunch of directions and just wasn’t taking the time to put away the stuff I could. And the clutter started getting tome.

So this morning I set my timer for five minutes and I cleared off my desktop. I recycled papers I didn’t need. Took coffee mugs away to the (temporary) kitchen and put things in their homes.

After five minutes my desk wasn’t perfect (see the photo above). But I wish I’d taken a before picture, because the improvement with just a little effort was vast. I felt so much better when I was finished. And I was able to ge productive quickly—I’m always amazed how a cluttered desktop hampers my productivity. (It’s clear I need to spend some time decluttering my computer desktop…please don’t judge!)

Sometimes when you’re really busy and things are messy you think you just don’t have the time to tidy up. But I think that’s when you should take a little time—even if it’s just five minutes—to create a little order and give yourself some peace of mind.

Decluttering, tidying and cleaning are not an all-or-nothing propositions. You don’t have to wait until you have enough time to do everything. You can do just a little and enjoy some big dividends.

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Study on clutter and relationships

7 June 2016

I’m always urging clients not to let stuff have power over their relationships. It breaks my heart when I see disagreements over stuff getting in the way of happy relationships.

In honor of National Moving Day (May 31), Sparefoot recently commissioned a study on the extent of Americans’ clutter and how it affects relationships and health. The results are interesting, and confirm a lot of things I’ve seen to be true. For example, the study found that 91 percent of Americans have kept an item because they felt guilty getting rid of it.

If you’re a numbers cruncher, you can read the complete results from the survey company. Or you can take look at this nifty infographic created by SpareFoot that summarizes the results.

Via SpareFoot.com

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Worth repeating: Storing cards to send later

2 June 2016

Four years ago I wrote this blog post about storing the cards I acquire to send to others. I still use this method and find it so helpful when I need a card on the fly.

If you’re like me and like to pick up greeting cards when they’re on sale or when you find one you really like (or, if you like to reuse cards like I do), sometimes storing them can get tricky.

I’m usually looking for a card in a hurry, like when I’m heading out the door to meet a friend and realize her birthday is coming up. Some years back, I started storing my cards by category using a desktop file box. Now it’s really easy to find what I want in a hurry. I’ve suggested this to several clients, who found it to be an easy-to-maintain system as well.

card sorter

That's our tile porch roof in the background.

Here’s what you do:

  • Take a container, either a shallow desktop file box mine (or perhaps one of these ubiquitous mail holders if you have one collecting dust because it didn’t work for you for your mail. A plastic (or even cardboard) shoe box could also work well if you have enough cards to fill it.
  • Sort your cards into whatever categories work for you.
  • Create labels, either using a label maker, printing Avery address labels (which is what I did), or hand writing a label right on the file tab.
  • Cut manila file folders so they’re about the width of a card, using the section of the folder surrounding the 1/3-cut tab. Cut the folder at the bottom as well, so that your file folder divider is just a single thickness.
  • Simply rest the cards upright in the file box, using the modified file folders as dividers to separate the categories.

The great thing about this is that the cards become very easy to flip through. At one point in my life, a couple of decades ago, I tried using an accordion file. But that took many more steps to access. This has been terrific. Happy card giving!

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It's easier to keep up than to catch up

30 May 2016

It's easier to keep up than to catch up

I’ve gotten behind in my data entry for Quickbooks, my financial software. I hate it when that happens. I put the blame on my puppy, Bix, who turned everything upside down when he joined our family in December. I let the receipts pile up and soon they were overwhelming. (Okay, I know it’s not fair to blame my adorable puppy for my shortcomings.)

Finally, this Memorial Day weekend, I’m getting caught up. It’s not exactly how I wanted to spend the holiday weekend, but I’m really glad to get it done.

(Oh, and I’m sure you’re wondering why I don’t automate the data entry. I don’t have a good reason beyond that I like how I do things. Manual data entry makes me feel really in touch with my finances and, unless I let myself get behind, it works really well for me.)

The weird thing is, I don’t mind doing bookkeeping. I even like it a little. (And I have no interest in hiring a bookkeeper.) But slogging through everything when there’s a five-month backlog becomes drudgery. It got me thinking about how much easier it is to bookkeeping on a daily, weekly, or even monthly basis. Here’s why:

  • The information is fresh, so entering it is a no brainer. (Four-month-old deposits can sometimes be head scratchers, despite my best efforts to notate everything.)
  • The pile of receipts and other information to work on is unintimidatingly small.
  • When I’m caught up on my bookkeeping I can run reports and really know where I stand.

The benefit of making frequent, small efforts isn’t limited to finances, of course. Doing routine tasks regularly, instead of letting them build up, helps with filing, decluttering, cleaning, and many, many other tasks. For example, I wipe my bathroom fixtures with a Lysol wipe daily so my bathroom doesn’t get gross soap buildup.

I’m going to finish catching up with my bookkeeping and once I’m current, I’m going to try hard not to get behind on my Quickbooks again. I can’t wait to start generating some reports!

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Lessons learned from a painful thumb

25 May 2016

I was diagnosed with trigger finger recently (trigger thumb, actually). Trigger finger happens when the tendon in a finger or thumb becomes inflamed, causing the finger to catch in its sheath. The finger then locks in the bent position and then releases with a snap.

As soon as I noticed severe pain in my thumb and experienced that tell-tale snap after waking up, along with a constant dull pain in the thumb, I made an appointment with a hand doctor. (y husband has had surgery for trigger finger twice, so I was clued in.) The doctor confirmed my self-diagnosis and suggested a steroid shot. I’d heard that the steroid shot was really painful, but I decided to give it a try.

What does this have to do with organizing? It brought to mind two things that I see in clients while decluttering and organizing.

First, the fear of the pain of the shot was worse than the pain itself. And while it was quite painful for about 10 to 12 (long) seconds, it wasn’t by any means unbearable. Once the pain of the shot was gone, the pain of the condition slowly started to fade away.

It got me thinking about the fear some clients feel about hiring an organizer or the prospect of going through the decision-making process of decluttering. It seems scary, but the pain is over pretty quickly. And once you’re past the pain of getting started, you can start getting relief.

After I got my steroid shot I was (unrealistically) expecting instant relief. That wasn’t the case. It took probably a week, but every day there was less pain in my thumb. Then one day there was no pain at all. I could grip items without pain and the constant dull ache was gone. And mornings were much easier, since I woke up pain free.

It probably took me a week to notice the absence of pain. That was a real a-ha moment for me. Once I noticed that my thumb no longer hurt, I was delighted. The shot had worked! I was amazed that it took so long to notice.

Isn’t that true of a lot of things in life, including organizing systems? We notice what isn’t working. We feel the pain and frustration of failing systems or the absence of systems. But when things are going well, we often don’t even notice. We’re missing an opportunity to feel good about ourselves!

I encourage you to think about the things in your life that are working well. Notice the absence of frustration. Think about what you’re doing right and apply those lessons to the frustrating aspects of your life.

Noticing the absence of pain can be difficult. But it can be rewarding!

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Worth repeating: Making travel mornings smoother

19 May 2016

Tomorrow morning I fly to Atlanta for the annual meeting of the National Association of Professional Organizers. (Woo hoo!) So it seemed like an appropriate time to repeat this post, written a couple of years ago, about using a checklist to make packing easier. I still use that checklist each time I travel and it’s worked out well for me.

This morning, I had a flight that departed at 5:50, which meant I needed to leave for the airport at 4:15. That meant I needed to get up at 3:15. In the morning. Actually, I probably should have either (a) arised earlier or (b) packed absolutely everything but morning essentials the night before.

I was rushed getting ready. And I was a bit groggy. As a result, I forgot to pack a few things. Nothing critical, but I’m still kicking myself. (I forgot my backup battery charger for my iPhone or iPad, my car charger for my phone—which I may not need if my rental car has a USB port—and toothpaste and mascara.)

The thing is, I’m not a haphazard packer. But I find it’s the stuff I pack on travel day that can problematic.

I had a little time at the gate, and as I sat there thinking about the things I’d forgotten to pack, I created a checklist of items to consult on future trips. I put an asterisk next to the ones I forgot this time, hoping to reinforce remembering them in the future.

Since I tend to take morning flights, I think I’ll take it a step further and create a list of things to pack the night before and things to pack in the morning. Obviously, the more I pack the night before, the better. My practice has been to pack electronics in the morning.

Another helpful thing I could do would be to have travel versions of most of my toiletries, which reside in my travel toiletries kit. Then I wouldn’t have to worry about packing those items. I already do that for a lot of things, like shampoo and conditioner, but I’d run out of travel-sized toothpaste.

I dislike being rushed or frazzled (I literally was repeating that Phil Dunphy maxim, Slow is smooth and smooth is fast, as I was getting ready this morning.) I think these checklists will make my next trip easier.

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How will you be remembered?

16 May 2016

How will you be remembered?

Rick Simoncelli

My husband and I attended a friend’s memorial service on Saturday. Rick Simoncelli was a warm, wonderful, accomplished man, who will be greatly missed not only by his family and friends, but by the St. Louis community. His memorial service was a beautiful celebration of a life well-lived, though Rick was only 65 when he passed away from brain cancer. 250 or so people crowded the church to pay their respects in a touching and joyous celebration of life.

Listening to the kind words spoken about Rick and learning about aspects of his life I hadn’t known about, I started thinking about my own memorial service. What do I hope will be said about me?

Two things jumped to my mind: I would like to be remembered for how my life affected others (in a positive way, of course). And I would like to be remembered as a kind person.

Do I want to be remembered as a successful business person or author? Sure. But it’s more important to me to be remembered as someone who brought joy to others and really helped them.

The good news is that this is within my control. I can live life as I want to be remembered. It’s so easy to get caught up in day-to-day activities, focusing on the minutiae rather than the big picture. As death tends to do, Rick’s passing brought home the realization of how short our lives our and how important it is to make the most of every day.

In the coming weeks, will take the opportunity to ponder my legacy and renew my efforts to live the life worthy of remembering. And I will miss Rick and try to be a good friend to his wife, Claudia, and daughters, Jessica and Amelia, who will miss him even more than me.

How would you like to be remembered?

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About Janine

Janine Adams

Hello! I’m Janine Adams — a certified professional organizer based in St. Louis, and the creator of Peace of Mind Organizing®.

I love order, harmony + beauty, but I believe that the way that you feel about yourself and your home is what truly matters.

If you’re ready to de­clutter with a purpose and add more ease to your life, you’ve found the right blog — and you’ve found the right gal.

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